Discovering new tools for nanoscience

In nanoscience, researchers are truly limited by the technology of their field, needing increasingly more advanced tools for studying, analyzing and manipulating objects and systems at the scale of individual molecules and atoms.

To expand the boundaries of nanoscience, the Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science is now devoted to the development and utilization of next-generation tools for exploring the nanoscale world. In a recent, in-depth interview, the Institute’s new leadership — Director Paul McEuen and Co-Director David A. Muller — discussed the Institute’s new focus, as well as the need for advanced technology in nanoscience. According to McEuen, existing tools “are still an enormous limiting factor in what we can do at the nanoscale world. We don’t have eyes and hands at the nanoscale to see and control things the way we’re used to at the milli-, micro- or macro-scale.”

Because of this, the institute will begin focusing on “high-risk, high-payoff” projects with the potential of changing the way scientists work worldwide; or in McEuen’s words, “we’re looking for projects where you could say, ‘If I succeed, suddenly everybody’s going to want one of these.'”

In addition to discussing the quest for new nanotechnologies, McEuen and Muller share the impact of technology on their own research, and how new technologies could not only lead to visionary advances, but how other sciences are perceived.

Story (with transcript) is available at:

ABOUT THE KAVLI INSTITUTE AT CORNELL FOR NANOSCALE SCIENCE (KIC): KIC is devoted to creating new techniques to image and dynamically control nanoscale systems, and using these techniques to push the frontiers of nanoscale science. KIC is a member of Cornell’s renowned community of research and facilities in nanofabrication (Cornell NanoScale Science & Technology Facility and National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network), nanoscale materials (Cornell Center for Materials Research), and mission-oriented centers (Center for Nanoscale Systems, Energy Materials Center at Cornell, KAUST-Cornell Center for Energy and Sustainability and the Nanobiotechnology Center). KIC Director: Paul McEuen, Professor of Physics; KIC Co-Director: David A. Muller, Associate Professor of Applied and Engineering Physics.

ABOUT THE KAVLI FOUNDATION: Established in 2000, The Kavli Foundation is dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of humanity, promoting public understanding of scientific research, and supporting scientists and their work. The Foundation’s mission is implemented through an international program of research institutes in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience and theoretical physics, and through the support of conferences, symposia, endowed professorships, journalism programs, education initiatives, and other activities. The Foundation is also a founding partner of the Kavli Prizes.

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